Archive for March, 2016

Lewis County prosecutors lose track of key witness in rape case, drop charges

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Instead of going to trial next week for rape and kidnapping, a 25-year-old Salkum resident was sentenced to 60 days in jail and given credit for 60 days already served.

Joel L. Kaech was arrested on Jan. 31 after a 32-year-old woman reportedly ran away from Kaech at the skate park across Harrison Avenue in Centralia and made contact with police.

She spoke of she and a mutual friend being picked up by Kaech in Longview, and Kaech kicking the friend out of the car and then an unspecified period of time in which the two drove to several places in Lewis County, during which she was sexually assaulted.

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Joel L. Kaech / File photo

Kaech was initially charged with two counts of first-degree rape, one count of first-degree kidnapping, one count of felony harassment and possession of methamphetamine.

Yesterday, all the charges but the drug offense were dismissed at the request of the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said they want to prosecute the case, but they’ve lost touch with the victim.

While she was initially cooperative, they can’t find her, Meagher said.

“We just couldn’t do it, and we were up against speedy trial (rules),” he said.

The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled at a later date, Meagher said.

He spoke of the pressures placed on such victims, that make it difficult to follow through with the criminal proceedings. He also noted how keeping connected with victims is something the office spends a tremendous amount of time on.

“I hope she’s okay, and I hope she checks in with us,” he said.

Kaech pleaded guilty yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court to possession of methamphetamine and was ordered to make monthly payments on $2,300 worth of fines. He’s already served his 60-day sentence.

The judge found chemical dependency contributed to the crime and also ordered him to undergo an evaluation and comply with treatment. Kaech will be on community custody for 12 months.

He remains confined in the Lewis County Jail without bail today however for something described on the jail’s roster as “other agency hold.”
•••

For background, read “Rape investigation: Salkum man held with no bail, no charges” from Monday February 1, 2016, here

News brief: Lengthy sentence expected for burglarizing prosecutor’s house

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia woman accused of breaking into Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer’s home is facing a recommended prison term of seven years after admitting her crimes to a judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Janet L. Gleason, 43, pleaded guilty yesterday in two separate cases, one for drugs, the other for the Centralia burglary.

For the Feb. 10, 2015 offense on Mount Vista Road, she is convicted of residential burglary, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and second-degree malicious mischief.

For her Sept. 17, 2015 encounter with detectives, she is convicted of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain was asked to handle her case, because of the conflict. She is represented by Michael Underwood.

Court documents indicate McClain will ask that she be sentenced to 84 months when she returns to court on May 11.
•••

For background, read “Role reversal: Lewis County prosecutor reflects on becoming a burglary victim” from Friday November 6, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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•••

Updated at 4:37 p.m.

MAN BEATEN WITH BRASS KNUCKLES

• Centralia police reported this morning they were searching for an individual who assaulted a 35-year-old man using brass knuckles. Officers responding about 2:20 a.m. today to the area of Lakeshore Drive and Marsh Avenue found the victim had cuts to his head as well as some defensive wounds, according to the Centralia Police Department. A suspect was identified and is being sought for second-degree assault, according to police.

VALUABLE LOGGING TOOL TAKEN, WITH TRUCK

• A deputy was called about 2:30 a.m. yesterday to the 200 block of Keasling Road south of Chehalis following the discovery that a 1995 Ford F350 crew cab, which had its keys left inside the evening before, was missing from a commercial equipment yard. Also stolen from B and M Logging were three chainsaws and other tools including a specialty computer driven tool useful only to the business, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The specialty tool alone is estimated at $10,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

OTHER VEHICLE THEFT

• Chehalis police were called just after 6 a.m. today to the 500 block of Northwest Center Street when an individual stepped back inside while leaving the motor running in an unlocked Toyota pickup and shortly thereafter saw the vehicle was gone. The truck is a flat red color with a black canopy, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The victim’s wallet was inside the truck, police were told.

CAR PROWL

• An unknown suspect broke a window on a locked car a the 900 block of South Scheuber Road in Centralia and stole a backpack, according to a report made to police at about 4 a.m. today.

TEN-THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF POWDER HEROIN

• A 50-year-old man was brought before a judge yesterday facing numerous charges following his arrest the day before by local drug detectives. Members of the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team went looking for David L. Waldeck on Tuesday after getting information he was staying in the Toledo area. Charging documents state he gave consent for his vehicle to be searched and “more than user amount” of powder heroin was located as well as an unspecified amount of methamphetamine, a digital scale and several small empty plastic baggies. Waldeck had been contacted on March 8 by detectives, who made similar finds in his vehicle and then released him upon his promise to contact law enforcement related to his drug activity, the documents alleged. Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh told the judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court the first find consisted of 70 grams of powder heroin with a $10,000 street value. His failure to contact detectives afterward was what prompted their interest in finding him this week, according to the court documents. Allegedly selling heroin to an informant twice since Feb. 1 was what led to the contact earlier this month. Detectives also on Tuesday found amongst Waldeck’s belongings a “large amount” of money, Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello wrote. The location for each of the events related to the alleged illegal activity is described only as Lewis County. He was charged yesterday with three counts of selling heroin for profit, two counts of possession of heroin with intent to deliver, and two counts of possession of meth. His bail was set at $100,000. Court documents show Waldeck with an address in Port Orchard.

STRIP MALL ROOF SEARCHED

• Chehalis police were called about 8:35 p.m. yesterday when someone was heard on the roof of the Dollar Tree at the Twin City Town Center. A police dog got involved and a fire department ladder truck was requested to the 1400 block of Louisiana Avenue, but a spokesperson for the Chehalis Police Department said this morning she didn’t yet have any information about who, if anyone, was located.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 22-year-old Glenoma woman suffered a laceration to her face when her car struck the front of a nearly stopped road grader about 8 a.m. yesterday on the 500 block of Meade Hill Road in Glenoma. The 41-year-old operator of the county vehicle had seen her coming from around a series of “S” curves and veered to the right, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The 2013 Honda Accord sustained major damage and the patient was transported to Morton General Hospital for treatment, according to the sheriff’s office. She had been wearing her seat belt, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. She was cited for a violation of “keep right except when passing,” Brown said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, misdemeanor assault, third-degree malicious mischief, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, dispute, vandalism, harassment, disorderly person, third-degree theft, runaway juvenile, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, graffiti in a restroom … and more, among 178 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 6:30 a.m. today.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016
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•••

LAW ENFORCEMENT: CHECK PRINTING SCHEME UNCOVERED

• A 36-year-old Cinebar man who allegedly travels with a printer and a computer to create fraudulent checks was arrested yesterday after a short vehicle pursuit that ended at the 200 block of Third Street East in Onalaska. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said it has been investigating Richard R. Perry Jr. since the end of December and got information about 1 p.m. yesterday he was in the Onalaksa area. Cmdr. Dusty Breen said the case involved 12 checks cashed in six Lewis County locations totaling $4,377.08. Perry was booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged today with first-degree theft, five counts of second-degree identity theft and attempt to elude. Breen noted cases for five other individuals who allegedly helped pass the checks, on the account of a non-profit organization that feeds homeless people, were referred to prosecutors for possible charging. Charging documents for Perry indicate several law enforcement agencies already investigating Perry, including Chehalis Tribal Police, Olympia Police Department, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and the Centralia Police Department. Perry allegedly told a deputy he received a check from the Sidewalk company from a local man and scanned it into his computer, then would modify it to make it look like paychecks. Among the locations and amounts were Brenda’s Market on state Route 508 for $202.05, the Lucky Eagle Casino for as much as $830.59, Safeway and two check cashing businesses, according to court documents. Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Nelson today indicated to a Lewis County Superior Court judge authorities have identified at least 17 counts. He requested and was granted bail to be set at $50,000.

RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE

• A 30-year-old man was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle yesterday morning when deputies went to the 100 block of Harold Drive south of Chehalis in response to a report the missing vehicle was there. A deputy knocked, the door opened and a dog opened the door wider, according to authorities. A deputy detained a male he believed to be someone with a warrant, the male gave another name – of a real person who had an outstanding warrant – but he turned out to be Matthew L. Emery, according to court documents. Missing and/or damaged were a CD player, speakers and an amplifier, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Emery was booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged today also with second-degree identity theft. The vehicle had been stolen from a 23-year-old Centralia man. Emery lives in either Chehalis or Pacific Beach.

RECKLESSNESS

• Centralia police were called about 7:45 p.m. yesterday to the 600 block of West Third Street where an individual allegedly drove his vehicle into a front yard nearly striking pedestrians during a neighborhood dispute. John J. Showers, 38, of Centralia was cited for reckless endangerment and then released pending a court date, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called just after 8 o’clock this morning about a vehicle prowl at the 200 block of Jackson Street. Documents were missing from inside the vehicle, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police took a report of a vehicle prowl yesterday afternoon at the 600 block of Centralia College Boulevard in Centralia. Missing was prescription medication, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, shoplifting, dispute, vandalism, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 154 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Elementary school employee released as ‘hug’ case progresses

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 36-year-old Chehalis man accused of hugging a 9-year-old year-old female student in an inappropriate manner went before a judge today where a prosecutor asked the charge of fourth-degree assault be modified to include a special allegation it occurred “with sexual motivation.”

James Denning was arrested yesterday and booked into the Lewis County Jail but was released prior to today’s hearing in Chehalis Municipal Court.

Chehalis police yesterday said the arrest followed an investigation of a March 14 report from staff at R.E. Bennett Elementary School on South Market Boulevard in Chehalis. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said Denning was not a teacher, but was an employee who helped at recess.

The Chehalis School DIstrict announced on its web site Denning was a temporary playground assistant. He was placed on paid administrative leave March 14 pending further investigation and has resigned.

Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor.

School authorities offered a small amount of detail on the incident.

“The school district has been asked if it is against school policy for employees to hug students,” the web site message stated. “The answer is: no, it is not generally inappropriate for employees to hug students. But, this case involved an allegation of an extended hug that went past the time when the student communicated a wish to break the contact.”

The court hearing was brief and Denning requested a court-appointed lawyer.

He said his next hearing is April 20.

Judge Brosey eyes retirement, Chehalis lawyer to seek election to the court

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Updated at 1:59 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After nearly 18 years on the bench, Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey announced this morning he won’t be seeking re-election, and a local defense attorney who previously worked as a deputy prosecutor and before that as a federal law enforcement officer has declared her candidacy

Joely O’Rourke, 41, of Chehalis, said she’s excited to earn the opportunity to serve as a Superior Court judge.

“Judge Brosey’s commitment to Lewis County has been exemplary,” O’Rourke said in a news release this morning. “I’m looking forward to continuing the same dedication to public and judicial service he showed on the bench.”

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Joely O’Rourke

O’Rourke is currently in private practice, where she represents defendants at their first appearance on criminal charges in both Lewis County District Court and Lewis County Superior Court. She also serves as an attorney for the Lewis County Family Treatment Court where she represents parents in dependency actions.

The Edmonds native is a graduate of the University of Washington and Gonzaga University Law School.

From 2009 until October 2014, she worked at the Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a deputy prosecutor in the criminal division. She says she successfully prosecuted those accused of violent offenses, specifically domestic violence assaults, sex offenses and crimes against children.

O’Rourke also served as the drug court prosecutor and was a member of a multi-disciplinary task force, a group tasked with preparing child sexual abuse cases for prosecution.

But before she was a lawyer, she was a special agent with NCIS.

Beginning in January 2003, O’Rourke investigated major crimes involving military installations ashore, abroad and afloat as a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

During her time as a special agent, O’Rourke also worked in counter-terrorism, where she was assigned as the Intelligence Liaison providing threat assessments to the commanding officer of Naval Base San Diego.

She served on the protection details for Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of the Navy Donald Winters and also for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Pakistan.

In May 2008, O’Rourke traveled to Galway, Ireland to testify as the Investigating Special Agent in a trial against an international terrorist who threatened to kill President George W. Bush and attack several US aircraft carriers.

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Judge Richard Brosey

Lewis County has three superior court judges who preside over felony and high-money civil cases.

In mid-December, Judge Nelson Hunt let it be known he was not planning to run this fall for another term, and Adna resident Andrew Toynbee announced he would seek election to the post.

Judge Brosey this morning stated he would complete his final four-year term, which ends in January.

The 67-year-old will have served as a Superior Court judicial officer for a total of 23 years.

Brosey said he’s always believed judges should serve the term for which they were elected and that they ought to retire before health or age dictates that they should.

“I will be 68 years old in December; it is time to spend more time with my wife and grandchildren and let someone else do this job,” he said in his announcement. “It has been a great honor and a pleasure to serve the citizens of Lewis County.”

The Lewis County native has presided over approximately 275 jury trials, including several of the largest and longest civil cases in county history, and has also handled numerous criminal cases, including multiple victim and “cold case” homicides.

Brosey served as the court’s first full-time court commissioner for four and a half years and was appointed July 1, 1998, by then-Gov. Gary Locke as the county’s third superior court judge after the state legislature created the position. He was elected that fall to retain the position and has subsequently been re-elected four times.

“My wife and I are looking forward to enjoying the slower pace of the next chapter of our lives,” Brosey stated.

O’Rourke resides in Chehalis with her husband, Shane O’Rourke, and their son.

Shane O’Rourke is also a local attorney and partner in the law firm of Buzzard O’Rourke in Centralia.

The O’Rourkes are actively involved in the community, including volunteering with the Chehalis School District, Chehalis Rotary, Chehalis Little League, East Lewis County Relay for Life, the Drug Court Give Back program and are both currently on the board of Lewis County Legal Aid.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
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•••

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL EMPLOYEE ARRESTED

• Chehalis police arrested a school employee today in connection with an incident reported two weeks ago at R.E. Bennett Elementary School. Police were called on March 14 and told by school staff an employee had hugged a 9-year-old year-old student in an inappropriate manner, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Based on their investigation that included video evidence and witness interviews, police arrested 36-year-old James Denning today for fourth-degree assault, according to police. The Chehalis resident was booked into the Lewis County Jail. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said he wasn’t sure of Denning’s job title but that he is not a teacher.

AUTO THEFT

• An officer took a report of a stolen 1997 Honda Accord at about 4:30 a.m. today from the 1800 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia. The silver car has a license plate reading 827 XOE, according to the Centralia Police Department..

• An officer on patrol at about 12:30 a.m. today located a vehicle  at the 100 block of West High Street that had been stolen from Hayden, Idaho. It appeared it had been parked there for a while before discovery, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police called about 12:45 a.m. today about a customer who could not pay for his meal at a business on Southwest Interstate Avenue in Chehalis ended up arresting the 25-year-old man from Grass Valley, California for possession of a stolen vehicle. His card had been declined and the 2008 Ford Escape he was driving belonged to the Red Cross, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Wade D. Amesbury was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that a deputy took a report of the theft of a light blue Honda Civic from the 100 block of Shelly Drive in Centralia. The loss is about $3,000 and the car has a license plate reading AOU 2508, according to the sheriff’s office.

FUNNY MONEY

• A 28-year-old man was arrested yesterday after he allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at a store on the 100 block of West High Street in Centralia. The bill was rejected and he left with it but was stopped by police close by and two counterfeit bills were recovered, according to the Centralia Police Department. Shawn L Weaver, from Monroe, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for forgery, according to police.

• Centralia police took a report about 2:15 p.m. yesterday of a different suspect spending a counterfeit $100 bill at the 100 block of West High Street.

• Centralia officers conducted a search warrant on a room at Motel 6 on Belmont Avenue yesterday afternoon and recovered a printer and partially printed counterfeit $100 bills. The case is under investigation.

OTHER THEFT

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office took a report of a burglary from a church on the 1100 block of state Route 7 where the missing items included a twin bed, a night stand and a Dewalt generator. It happened sometime between March 19 and Saturday, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 45-year-old Toledo woman was arrested for second-degree theft in connection with an 8 a.m. call on Saturday to the sheriff’s office from the 200 block of Foster Creek Road. The victim said he saw a silver vehicle dragging his piece of equipment – a core liner driller – down the road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy followed the drag marks and made contact with Jill Todd, according to the sheriff’s office. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

• Police yesterday morning too a report of a theft of drill bits from a house under construction at the 1200 block of G Street in Centralia.

• Centralia police were called yesterday morning about lawn ornaments stolen from the 2300 block of Scheuber Ridge Court and also from the 2500 block of Sharon Street in Centralia.

FRAUD

• A 53-year-old Chehalis area man reported to the sheriff’s office that someone took two checks from his checkbook and cashed them for $300 and $500 sometime between Feb. 15 and March 22. There is a suspect, or, person of interest, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said this morning.

CAR PROWL

• An officer was called yesterday afternoon about a vehicle prowl at the 2100 block of North National Avenue in Chehalis.

• Chehalis police were called about 8:15 a.m. yesterday to the 900 block of Southeast Washington Avenue where someone had broken into an unlocked vehicle and stolen a stereo. Another resident at the same address lost a GPS device from a second vehicle there, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• Chehalis police were called about 5:10 p.m. yesterday regarding an individual at 12th Street and McFadden Avenue who was “rocking” someone else’s vehicle and then throwing items out of a shed. Adrian J. Gillespie, 43, of Chehalis, was subsequently arrested for a drug violation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that a 20-year-old driver was cited for speeds too fast for conditions after a single-vehicle collision about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the 1300 block of Bunker Creek Road. A deputy determined she failed to negotiate a curve during the heavy rain and struck a tree, according to the sheriff’s office. The female driver sustained cuts to both her hands and a possible head injury, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Her 15-year-old passenger had back and neck pain, Brown said. Both were taken to the hospital. The 2009 Chevrolet Impala was totaled, Brown said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, March 28th, 2016
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•••

Updated at 4:34 p.m.

HOME INVASION ROBBERY REPORTED

• Chehalis police are investigating a report from about 11:37 p.m. on Saturday in which a woman on Southwest 10th Street just  just off Market Boulevard in Chehalis said three armed, masked men came in and demanded her valuables. Taken was a Playstation, a 20-inch television, a DVR, a computer, two hard drives and a flash drive, according to the Chehalis Police Department. She was not injured, according to police.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 1:30 p.m. yesterday to take a report of a theft of a 1998 Silver Mitsubishi Mirage from the 700 block of J Street.

• Centralia police were called at noon on Saturday to take a report of the theft of a 1993 GMC pickup truck from the 1300 block of Belmont Avenue. It had a with a license plate reading B91135X,  according to the Centralia Police Department. The truck had a rental trailer attached to it, which was located abandoned in the Federal Way area.

DRUG PARAPHERNALIA STOLEN

• A “water bong” was reported stolen from a room at a motel on the 1000 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia last night after a mutual friend had returned to the room to retrieve his belongings, according to the Centralia Police Department. After the male suspect left the bong was missing, according to police.

OTHER THEFT

• Chehalis police were called on Saturday evening to the 1300 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue about a suspected theft. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called about 3:45 p.m. yesterday for a vehicle prowl at the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue. Taken was a purse and credit cards, according to the Centralia Police Department. The cards had already been used by the suspect, according to police. The case is under investigation.

• Aa vehicle prowl was reported at the 1700 block of North Pearl Street about 11:30 a.m. yesterday in which numerous items were reported missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about a vehicle prowl about 11:10 a.m. on Saturday at the 100 block of Southwest Fifth Street. Taken from the unlocked truck was a Makita cordless screwdriver, a Husky ratchet set and a wallet with its identification, bank cards and cash.

• Police were called on Saturday about an overnight car prowl on the 1000 block of Southwest 20th Street in Chehalis in which a stereo, an amplifier and bag of clothing were stolen. The vehicle had been left unlocked, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Centralia police were called just before 9 a.m. on Saturday regarding a vehicle prowl at the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue. Someone broke the car window and stole a purse, according to the Centralia Police Department. The handbag was found in the area minus its cash, according to police.

LITTLE FIRE INSIDE WINLOCK HOME

• Firefighters called at 9:10 p.m. yesterday regarding smoke at the 200 block of Shannon Lewis Lane in Winlock had to force their way into a home and found a small smoldering fire. They turned it over to law enforcement because it was a little suspicious, according to Lewis County Fire District 15. It was so small they didn’t need to use water, but picked it up and took it outside, Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said. It was like wood debris near a fireplace, he said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, shoplifting, resisting arrest, misdemeanor domestic assault, protection order violation, driving with suspended license, driving without required interlock device, third-degree malicious mischief; responses for alarm, dispute, misdemeanor  theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 115 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, March 26th, 2016
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The hopper smokes at Sound Wood Products Inc. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6.

INDUSTRIAL PARK FIRE

• A fire broke out yesterday morning at a wood products business in the Chehalis Industrial Park. Nobody was injured. Firefighters called at 9:45 a.m. to the 100 block of Ribelin Road were told a bag house had exploded and flames were visible, according to Lewis County Fire District 6. Arriving crews found  the fire in a newer building on the property which housed a hopper. Fire department spokesperson DJ Hammer said it was separate from the production facility. The fire was confirmed extinguished an hour later, according to Hammer. District 6 was assisted by the Chehalis Fire Department and Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue. Hammer said Sound Wood Products Inc. is in its fourth year of operation there and manufactures laminate wood and decking products for the construction industry. He said the hopper was damaged but he didn’t know the extent of damage to the building.

SENIOR HOUSING FIRE

• Chehalis firefighters were called at 2:11 p.m. yesterday to a seniors apartment complex on the 300 block of Southeast Washington Avenue. A loaf of bread had been left on a stove and caught fire but it was extinguished by the manager, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Fire Capt. Kevin Curfman said there was no damage to the building.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were called at 3:20 a.m. today when a A red Honda Accord was stolen from the 1200 block of North Gold Street. The car has a, license plate reading AXH 7870, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FRAUD

• Centralia police were called just after noon yesterday to take a report of A report of an attempt to pass a forged check at the 200 block of North Pearl Street.

VANDALISM

• Police were called just before 2 o’clock this morning to the 100 block of Lum Road in Centralia where a window on a vehicle was smashed out.

• Police were called just after 2 p.m. yesterday to take a report of a window broken out of a car parked at the 1300 block of Belmont Avenue.

• Centralia police took reports yesterday of windows broken at the 100 block of South Tower Avenue and the 1400 block of South Gold Street.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for misdemeanor domestic assault, misdemeanor  theft; responses for alarm, dispute, disorderly person, suspicious circumstances… and more, among 164 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 6:20 a.m. today.

News brief: Suspect in threat with knife, teeth at Chehalis home booked

Friday, March 25th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 26-year-old man was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon in connection with an incident in which he allegedly barged into a Chehalis apartment with a knife, blaming the resident for his sister getting beat up.

Talen C.A. Maddux allegedly punched the victim, held the weapon near his chest and throat and said at one point he might bite his ear off.

When police arrived to the home on the 200 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue the evening of Jan. 26, they found Justin Steadham visibly shaken, with a bloody nose, according to court documents.

Maddux is charged with second-degree assault, first-degree burglary and attempted first-degree robbery. Court documents show him with a Chehalis address.

A judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court set his bail at $75,000.

The charges were filed on Feb. 29, after the victim and a witness identified Maddux from a photo montage, according to court documents.

Police were told Steadham heard a knock on his door and opened it, thinking it was a friend.

The visitor walked in, continued to hit the victim and pushed him onto a couch, the documents allege.

According to the charging documents, while there, Maddux put the knife down and told the victim to go in the bedroom with him to look for valuables. He fled when another individual arrived at the apartment.

Maddux was arrested and booked on Wednesday. The affidavit of probable cause stated he had two active warrants and multiple assault convictions.

His arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday.

Victimized Chihuahua expected to make full recovery

Friday, March 25th, 2016
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Richard J. Eng waits to be taken back to the jail after his court hearing on Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 29-year-old man accused of throwing a small dog against a table in anger told a deputy he and “Spike” don’t have good rapport.

Richard J. Eng reportedly said when he was leaving the Chehalis area home to get away from an argument with his wife, the Chihuahua mix got aggressive and he wanted to avoid getting bit.

“Therefore he picked up Spike and threw him across the house and fled the scene in his vehicle,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm wrote in charging documents.

The incident occurred just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the residence on the 500 block of Highway 603 southwest of Chehalis.

The responding deputy described the 8-inch tall dog, wrapped in a blanket and being held by its owner, as whimpering with a swollen and bleeding eye.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning the pet is expected to make a full recovery.

The two and a half year old pup was examined and treated at Fords Prairie Animal Clinic, Brown said. Spike was bruised and had trauma to his right eye, but was given medication and returned to its owner, according to Brown.

Eng was arrested that night and charged the following day in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree animal cruelty. The offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Judge James Lawler allowed Eng to be released from jail on a $20,000 signature bond.

Charging documents and the sheriff’s office give the following account of what took place:

A neighbor called 911 and the arriving deputy made contact with Eng’s wife and her mother. A young boy identified as Eng’s son was in the living room crying.

Eng’s mother-in-law said she was sleeping on the couch with her dog when Eng came downstairs, took the dog from her and threw it against a kitchen table.

She said she got up and went outside and was holding her injured pet in the carport.

As Eng was getting ready to leave, he allegedly grabbed it from her arms and tossed it into an outside garbage can.

The deputy located Eng at Wal-Mart and questioned him.

He reportedly told of being woke up by his wife and having a verbal argument, and then leaving.

When asked if anything happened with a dog, Eng said yes and described a bad experience from the past.

He said several months ago he got bit, when he tried to remove a cheeseburger wrapper from the Chihuahua’s mouth while it was choking.

“Therefore he and Spike do not have good rapport,” Prosecutor Bohm wrote of Eng’s description of their relationship.

So when Eng was leaving the house, he was trying not to get bit, he said. He allegedly admitted throwing Spike a second time because it was barking and/or acting aggressive toward him.

His arraignment is scheduled for March 31 in Lewis County Superior Court.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Angry man injures tiny dog” from Wednesday March 23, 2016, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, March 25th, 2016
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•••

Updated at 6:22 p.m.

PHYSICAL CONFRONTATION

• Chehalis police were called at 10:49 a.m. yesterday to the 300 block of Southwest 16th Street and given second-hand information that a student poked another student in the back with a knife. Further information is not yet available, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning by an individual who said her teenage daughter was reportedly struck by someone earlier this week at the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue. The case remains under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

CAR THEFT

• Centralia police were dispatched at 6 o’clock this morning to the 700 block of South Ash Street regarding the theft of a black 1997  Honda Accord. The car has a license plate reading 616 YSB, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Police were called about 6:20 p.m. yesterday to take a report that a window to a vehicle was smashed out at the 1300 block of Lum Road in Centralia.

FRAUD

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to a credit union on the 1500 block of Southwest Market Boulevard where an individual had allegedly deposited a check from a bank that belonged to someone else. The check or checks came from a recent local burglary and the incident is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

SHOPLIFTING

• A 20-year-old Chehalis resident was arrested overnight after allegedly stealing a cell phone from the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue. Eric J. Stevens was booked into the Lewis County Jail for retail theft with special circumstances – a felony – as he reportedly had something that allowed him to remove a security device, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Prosecutors declined to file the felony charge today.

FUNNY MONEY SPENT

• A counterfeit one hundred dollar bill was passed at a business on the 1100 block of View Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• A 22-year-old Silver Creek resident was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon, charged with four counts of possession of child porn. Kenneth E. Allen has a juvenile conviction for first-degree child molestation and is a registered level three sex offender, according to authorities. A Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective and a sergeant visited Allen on Wednesday at his home at the Silver Creek Grange, following up on information received from a detective with the Seattle Internet Crimes Against Children unit. Charging documents show the Seattle detective matching up or connecting Twitter accounts, photos of children, IP addresses, email addresses and cyber tips that led to a suspect. The pictures appeared to be girls younger than 11, prosecutors allege. The specific name of the charge is second-degree possession of depictions of minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. A Lewis County Superior Court judge set his bail at $50,000.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A bicyclist was struck in the back by the mirror to a large pickup truck at the 2700 block of Borst Avenue in Centralia yesterday morning. An officer called about 9 a.m. reports the driver of the vehicle did not stop.

• Two people were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries after their Mitsubishi Eclipse backed out of a driveway into a passing Toyota Camry on the 100 block of Wallace Road near Toledo yesterday afternoon. A deputy called at 4 p.m. to the scene cited the 24-year-old Hoquiam resident for failure to yield. He and his 39-year-old female passenger from Centralia were both transported, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Both car sustained major damage, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for driving under the influence, driving with suspend license driving without required interlock device; responses for alarm, dispute,  possible fraud, runaway juvenile, suspicious circumstances, misdemeanor theft; complaint of erratic driver  … and more, among 114 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 6 a.m. today.

Remembrance for Ben, Maddy and Sam Tower

Thursday, March 24th, 2016
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More than 400 people came together at the Northwest Sports Hub in Centralia last night to remember Ben, Maddy and Sam Tower.

Wednesday March 23, 2016, Centralia

Watch “Celebration of Life honors Centralia siblings who died in fire” from KING 5 News

And watch “Memorial held for 3 children who died in Centralia house fire” from Q13 Fox News

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“Less than three weeks ago they went to sleep, and they woke up in heaven,” Cyndi Pollard, principal of Evergreen Christian School in Olympia.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, March 24th, 2016
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•••

Updated at 1 p.m.

BURGLARY

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning a residence on the 2600 block of Bennett Road outside Centralia was burglarized of three firearms and other valuables totaling more than $4,000. Also missing are three cloth gun cases, a laptop computer, tax information and $1,900 cash, as well as a Nikon camera and lens, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Sometime between 10 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday someone broke into a home on the 200 block of Holcomb Road south of Chehalis and stole more than $5,000 worth of valuables. Missing was a 22 rifle with scope, keys to a car and house, $150 cash and a wooden jewelry box with its contents, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A deputy was called about 8 a.m. yesterday to investigate break-ins at two Toledo area restaurants. Nothing appeared to be missing but the entry lock systems were damaged at both Mrs. Beesley’s Burgers and Country Kitchen, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office has a suspect, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

AUTO THEFT

• Chehalis police were called just before 5 p.m. yesterday by an individual who said his gray 1999 Volkswagen Jetta disappeared from the 700 block of Southwest Cascade Avenue while it was warming up. The same car apparently had been involved in a hit and run collision 45 minutes earlier at South Pearl and West Pear streets in Centralia, and left its bumper behind, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 7:40 a.m. yesterday when a car was discovered missing from the 200 block of Southwest 13th Street. Taken sometime after 7 p.m. on Tuesday was a 1993 four-door Honda Civic described as faded black with chipped paint and a spoiler on its back, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• A black 1992 Honda Prelude, with purple wheels, was stolen from the 800 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia sometime between Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, police reported yesterday. The vehicle was locked and no keys were inside, according to the Centralia Police Department. The car has a license plate reading ASJ 7259, according to police.

CAR PROWL

• A small amount of change was stolen from inside a parked and unoccupied vehicle at the 700 block of Marsh Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 12:05 a.m. today.

• Centralia police were called about 8:40 a.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl at the 1400 block of West Main Street. Taken was cash and an identification card, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FRAUD

• Centralia police were called about 8:10 a.m. yesterday to the 200 block of North Pearl Street to take a report of fraudulent activity on a bank account.

• A deputy was called Tuesday afternoon to the 100 block of Harley Road south of Chehalis where an individual said someone had stolen a check from his mailbox, forged his signature and deposited it into a local bank. The loss is $900, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

OTHER THEFT

• Officers took a report of a theft of a lock box that contained money and prescriptions from the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia on Tuesday. This case is still under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 11 a.m. on Tuesday to a business on the 200 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia to take a report that two display signs and a clock were stolen. It is not known when the theft occurred, according to the Centralia Police Department.

STRANGER IN GARAGE

• Centralia police were called about 5:40 a.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of Delaware Avenue where a resident reported they woke up and found a stranger inside their garage. The individual punched the intruder several times and the intruder fled, but officers located their suspect a short distance away and arrested him, according to the Centralia Police Department. The male would not give officers his name and was booked into the Lewis County Jail as John Doe, for trespass and obstructing, according to police.

DRUGS

• A 35-year-old Winlock man was arrested for a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act after he was contacted by a deputy about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday at the 100 block of Brady Lane in Winlock. The deputy was checking on a report of gunfire in the area and pulled into a driveway where one person walked away and the other two people said they had been lighting fireworks, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. After leaving, the deputy realized the person who walked away was present in violation of a no contact order and returned, walked to the rear of the house and located Phillip L. Ray, standing around the corner smiling at him, according to the sheriff’s office. A search incident to his arrest turned up a baggie of suspected methamphetamine, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Ray was booked into the Lewis County Jail. He was charged with possession of meth and attempted tampering with evidence because he allegedly tried to eat the meth, but the deputy was able to get it back from his mouth, according to authorities. Charging documents state that detective Jeremy Almond pulled the baggie from Ray’s pants pocket and set it on the trunk of his car, and while Almond was retrieving a glass pipe from the other pant’s pocket, Ray leaned over and put his mouth on the baggie. “Det. Almond told the defendant not to do that,” prosecutors wrote.

LOST AND FOUND

• Chehalis police were called to the 1600 block of Louisiana Avenue about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday where a small black bag containing paraphernalia was discovered in the parking lot. It is slated for destruction, according to police.

WAKE-UP CALL

• An officer was called about 8:35 a.m. yesterday because an elderly man was found sleeping in the doorway of a bank on the 400 block of North Market Boulevard in Chehalis. He was asked to move along, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 53-year-old woman was transported to the emergency room at Providence Centralia Hospital with a possible neck injury after her Dodge Caravan was struck in its passenger side by a Kenworth dump truck at about 5:45 p.m. yesterday evening at Highway 603 and Avery Road West south of Napavine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The van was westbound and stopped at the stop sign but then continued without seeing the southbound truck, according to the sheriff’s office. The van suffered major damage, its driver cited for failure to yield the right of way, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A motorist was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance after police responded to an injury collision involving a tree at K and First streets in Centralia at about 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the Centralia Police Department. Leonardo L. Flores-Suaraz was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. However, prosecutors named the driver 18-year-old Leonardo L. Flores-Martinez from Rochester when they charged him with possession of methamphetamine yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, fighting in public, driving under the influence, driving with suspend license; responses for alarm, dispute, vandalism, shoplifting, hit and run, suspicious circumstances, misdemeanor domestic assault, collision on city street, failure to return rental item; complaints of aggressive drivers … and more, among 156 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 6:10 a.m. today.

News brief: Two freeway crashes, three injuries

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One man was airlifted this morning and another transported to Providence Centralia Hospital following a single-vehicle collision on southbound Interstate 5 near Napavine.

Firefighters called about 5 a.m. to the scene near milepost 70 found the car off the road and in the tress, according to Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue.

“One patient was trapped and had to be extricated, Firefighter Brad Bozarth said. “That patient was flown to a trauma center.”

The Washington State Patrol reported troopers did not know which man was driving the 2003 Lexis. They indicated Jonathan D. George, 19, of Everson, and Robert P. Olson, 26, from Maple Falls, were both taken to Providence.

The wreck follows by less than twelve hours another single-vehicle injury incident just five miles to the south.

Troopers and aid called just after 7 p.m. yesterday to the southbound lanes of the freeway northeast of Winlock found a teenager traveling with two children lost control of his car, headed through a ditch and struck a tree.

Marquis M. Rial, 18, of Centralia, was arrested for driving under the influence.

His 1-year-old passenger was reportedly uninjured but his 12-year-old passenger was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The 1991 Honda Accord was described as totaled.

Rial, who was reportedly unhurt, was booked into the Lewis County Jail also for reckless endangerment, according to the state patrol.

News brief: Angry man injures tiny dog

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Chehalis area man was arrested for allegedly throwing a Chihuahua against a kitchen table, and then grabbing it from the owner’s arms and throwing it into an outside garbage can last night.

Deputies called just before 8 p.m. to the 500 block of Highway 603 spoke to a 58-year-old woman who said it happened following an argument. The 29-year-old suspect had left, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The deputy noted the 8-inch tall dog’s eye was injured. It was swollen and bleeding and the pet appeared to be in pain, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

Its owner said she would be getting the two and a half year old Chihuahua medical assistance right away, Brown said.

Deputies subsequently found the suspect at Wal-Mart and arrested him for first-degree animal cruelty. Richard J. Eng was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

News brief: Woman survives leap from moving car onto freeway

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A passenger who fell onto Interstate 5 from a moving vehicle this morning in Chehalis was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

Troopers and aid were called about 8:20 a.m. to the northbound lanes near milepost 80, just north of Chamber of Commerce Way exit.

She was not conscious and possibly had a head injury, said Chehalis Fire Department Firefighter Pat Gilligan. He said he expected she would be flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The Washington State Patrol reports the 30-year-old woman had opened the door and jumped out. Trooper Will Finn indicated the car was traveling about 65 mph.

Finn said she was not hit by any passing cars, and suspected a mental issue may have been involved.

Kendra K. Sparks, 30, was traveling with her mother Pamela J. Sparks, 58, from Portland to home in Bremerton, according to the state patrol.

Finn tweeted an update at about 9:30 a.m., stating the patient was at the hospital and suffered bumps and bruises only. He said was on her way home from Portland’s airport after attending an Angels-Demons conference.

Plea deal negotiated in 2008 sandwich shop hold up

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
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Thomas L. Pleasant and his lawyer Don Blair appear before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court today.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A former Centralia man already imprisoned for life pleaded guilty today to robbing the Chehalis Subway store back in 2008.

Thomas L. Pleasant, 50, was brought from prison to Lewis County last month following his letter to the court requesting the languishing case get handled.

Pleasant was charged in Lewis County in 2008 with first-degree robbery and first-degree rape, but was already in custody for three robberies in Cowlitz County. He’s serving a sentence of life without parole.

He went before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court, where Senior Prosecuting Attorney Will Halstead said they’d made a plea deal.

Halstead told the judge there were evidentiary issues, and that he could provide more detail at the sentencing hearing.

Pleasant pleaded guilty today to first-degree robbery and second-degree assault.

What the victim described as a gun that looked like a long .22 with a silencer was a pellet gun, according to Pleasant and his lawyer.

He confessed to a Chehalis detective back in 2008 to the July 16, 2008 hold up at the Twin City Town Center, saying he tied up the female worker with an electrical cord and put her in a walk-in cooler.

The rape charge was dropped. Pleasant has denied the rape allegation.

He also noted in his letter to the court that he would be in danger if he went back to prison with such an offense on his record.

Judge Nelson Hunt asked Halstead if the victim was accepting of the plea deal. Halstead said she didn’t like it, but understood it.

Defense attorney Don Blair told the judge they were not ready for sentencing, as he needed to further study his client’s Colorado conviction for second-degree assault, which may or may not count as a “strike” offense.
•••

For background, read “Suspect from 2008 Subway robbery initiated reopening his case” from Monday March 7, 2016, here

Insurance Commissioner: Centralia agent failed to remit customer premiums

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The license for a Centralia insurance agent has been revoked after an audit revealed that he misappropriated nearly $30,000 in consumers’ premium payments, according to the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced the enforcement action against Matthew G. Gingerich earlier this month. It took effect on Feb. 22.

Gingerich was fired from employment with American Family Insurance following an internal audit, according to the state agency. His business address was on the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

He was licensed for property, casualty, life and disability insurance in this state beginning in October 2008.

The OIC states that Gingerich put the consumers’ insurance accounts in a hold status so they would not receive a notice that their policies were canceled for nonpayment. As of February, Gingerich had not yet repaid the money, according to OIC.

The order revoking his license states that Gingerich also submitted homeowner policies to the insurer with no down payments, transferred money from his premium trust account into his business account and provided false bank statements to the auditor.

American Family was able to correct the policies of all but one affected consumer, whom they could not identify.

The Feb. 12 order indicates OIC began its investigation after receiving notice April 24, 2014 that American Family terminated Gingerich for cause. Gingerich’s license expired at the end of 2014 and he did not renew it.

An OIC spokesperson indicated any criminal proceedings would be separate.

“We referred the case to our special investigation unit, they have the case,” spokesperson Kara Klotz said today. “We can’t say much other than it was referred to them and they are looking into it.”

Kreidler’s office oversees Washington’s insurance industry to ensure that companies, agents and brokers follow state laws. They have the option of handling violations with probation, suspension, refusal to renew or revocation. They also issue fines.

Last year, the office revoked the licenses of 60 insurance agents and brokers.

If Gingerich disagrees with the revocation, he may demand a hearing within 90 days from the date of the order. Attempts to contact Gingerich for comment were unsuccessful.

Read about Winlock man files three-quarter million dollar suit after wreck with patrol car …

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports a Winlock resident is seeking $750,000 in damages from the city of Longview, in connection with a traffic collision three years ago in which a police patrol car sideswiped his vehicle.

Reporter Havat Norimine writes Leslie Auman is recovering from surgery for a herniated disc and had to retire early because of the incident on the 300 block of South Oregon Way.

Read more about it here

News brief: Car collides with vehicles, pole and house in Onalaska

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
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The scene at the corner of state Route 508 and Central Avenue. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Only one person was hurt when an 87-year-old motorist traveling on state Route 508 in Onalaska hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes, veered off the highway and struck a house yesterday.

The pregnant homeowner was resting on a couch and three children were playing in a front bedroom, all near where the 1996 Buick Roadmaster made contact with the structure, according to authorities.

Lewis County Fire District 1 Assistant Chief Rhonda Volk said the car’s front end struck a post, and spun the car 180 degrees, leaving it parallel with the front porch.

“The post maybe slowed him down, thankfully,” Volk said.

Deputies and aid were called just before 1 p.m. to the scene at the northwest corner of Central Avenue.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports the elderly man was westbound when a Ford Expedition in front of him slowed to make a turn.

“He went to apply the brakes but instead, applied pressure to the accelerator,” Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

His car sideswiped the Expedition, swiped the rear of a Volkswagen Jetta and broke a telephone pole in half before reaching the house, Brown said.

Neither he nor the three other occupants of the affected vehicles were injured, but his passenger, an 86-year-old woman, was transported to the hospital with rib pain, according to Volk.

Siding on the house was damaged as well as possibly framing and the foundation, according to the sherif’s office.

The man whose name was not released but is from Kirkland, was cited for wheels off the roadway, Brown said. His car was totaled.